Whitewebbs Park andGolf Course – Future use

Proposals for changes to Whitewebbs Park

 

 

Whitewebbs Park and Golf Course – Future use

These are personal concerns over the apparent  proposals for the future of Whitewebbs Park and Golf Course.I am one of many daily users of the park who want Whitewebbs to continue and enhance its contribution to the health, welfare and enjoyment of the people of Enfield.

 

Following the publication of the “Whitewebbs Park and Golf Course – Future use” poster as well as the prospectus produced by  Knight Frank “Whitewebbs Park Golf Course and adjacent land …… To Let: a commercial development opportunity” There is a link to the text of the  prospectus at the end of these comments.

I have the following concerns:

  1. The totally inadequate publicity provided by LBE for this project.
  2. The privatisation of a public park.
  3. The financial basis of this proposal.
  4. The environmental impact of this proposal should a commercial lease be granted.
  5. The apparent lack of awareness by the proposers of this initiative that Hilly Fields, Whitewebbs and Forty Hall form an arc of the Green Belt offering an integrated and complimentary mix of environments that are not used as isolated units by the people of Enfield.
  6. Alternate proposals.

 

  1. The publicity. The proposal was announced in Whitewebbs Park by the tying of one A4 poster  to the dilapidated notice board at the far end of the carpark at Beggars Lane.  Some appeared in Hilly Fields. I know of at least six gated entrances to the park used by visitors.  The friends of Whitewebbs were able to post more copies. The one poster  that LBE put  up disappeared and after a week or two was replaced by two A3 posters in the same place.
    There has been no publicity in the local press and nothing on the LBE website, including the newsletter.
  2. Privatisation of a public park. I can understand that privatisation by lease can be an appropriate answer for some facilities in the borough – leisure centres, sports grounds, catering establishments.  The Trent Park Golf Course seems to have been successful but it has a better location (opposite a tube station) and greater potential for development than Whitewebbs (one bus an hour  except Sundays). It is not far from Whitewebbs, in a part of Greater London that is well (over?) endowed with golf courses. It would seem unwise to set Whitewebbs up in direct competition to  Trent Park.
    I don’t know of any privatised public parks in London. I certainly can’t think of any  general municipal park that are expected to run at a profit.  Trent Park  and the Enfield Playing Fields on the A10 can host large events but they are exceptional, not to say controversial.
    Whitewebbs Park is an area of fairly dense woodland with narrow paths maintained by the action of walkers walking along them. There has been no real expenditure on the park in the last ten years, if not longer. It has been left to Nature to do its stuff and this provides  a pleasant contrast to the more formal layouts in Forty Hall and Hilly Fields. Maintenance seems to consist of emptying the rubbish bins.  The Friends of the Park have arranged with the council recently for three more bins and for the resumption  of strimming alongside  some of the paths. Any other maintenance projects  have been done by volunteer groups such as CSV.
    I understand that  the costs of running each park are unavailable.  It would be interesting to know what the income from the Toby Carvery is and how this is set against park running costs. I note also that the  South Lodge in Beggars Lane was sold for £471,500 in 2011 and wonder how much of this was invested in improvements for Whitewebbs Park.
  3. The financial basis of this proposal.

The Golf Course – there is plenty of golfing provision in the area at a time when  the number of golfers is declining. Whitewebbs  serves a  particular niche in the market and to judge by the figures in  the Knight Frank prospectus is not doing too badly given that it does not have the facility to  supplement the income from fees  with bar and banqueting facility income. The course is clearly making an effort to improve the situation with an updated website and package deals with the Toby Carvery. If an investor could be found to sink the vast sums needed  to rebuild the course and provide the facilities that would allow it to compete with surrounding golf clubs in a declining market I and  commercial experts I have consulted would be very surprised.
Frank Knight included this statement in the prospectus:

Allegedly this is how some municipal golf courses have made a very large short term profit for lessees.  200,000 cubic metres of inert material (non toxic excavated waste from building projects) represents  about 350,000 tonnes. This requires  about 17,500 20 tonne 8 wheel tipper trucks to carry it. Contractors will pay a lot of money to dump waste and while this  might give a lessee a short term profit it does not necessarily lead to a long term financially secure basis for the golf club, particularly with a relatively short 25 year lease.

Would 17,500 20 tonne lorry journeys (35,000 including the return journey) along Whitewebbs Lane  or Clay Hill be acceptable in these environmentally conscious days. Who is going to check that each of these 17,500 loads contains inert (non toxic) material?

The Park - I am not aware of any park in Enfield that is expected to make a profit, or even cover its costs. Whitewebbs Park (not the golf course) is a unique part of Enfield’s green belt. Short of charging people for walking and for feeding the ducks the only way  to raise more income is to make certain facilities more attractive to the existing user base of  walkers  and runners. At present the café is not a place one would make a special effort to go to. The lessee has been highly restricted by council planning rules on the size and type of unit. According to the Knight Frank the income for the council is low.  There is hardly any shelter in poorer weather and there are no facilities  for families. It is essentially a tea/coffee bar with burgers and  a fryup menu. It is good to have something there  but it is not somewhere  one would make a special journey for.  It could be so much better – for golfers half way round the course, for muddy footed ramblers  travelling round the Loop,  dog walkers (of whom there are many), families who want to take their children  out for a day in the open and horse riders  using the bridleway. There are many examples of excellent park cafes all over London.

A decent café with a dedicated and  entrepreneurial owner would generate income for the Park and enhance the experience of visitors. The lease would have to be of a decent length if the  lessee is to  cover investment costs. Planning constrictions have held back  such a development for years.

The woodland  is unmanaged, with a wide variety of fauna and flora. The park has not had any real investment, one could almost say it has  suffered / benefitted from benign neglect. To have it compete with other parks and facilities  for users would be counterproductive. Its strengths are  its peaceful atmosphere, its wildlife, its unkempt but beautiful woodland. Encourage people to use it  by providing  better basic facilities – an all weather café, play facilities, information about the fauna and flora, signposted walks, welfare facilities for wet and muddy walkers and runners. More intensive use could easily destroy the  character and environmental quality of the park.  Most of the woodland paths are narrow. Encouraging, for example, mountain biking  in the woodland would produce conflict with existing users and deter them  from using the park, thereby reducing overall numbers.

It might be worth asking “How much does it cost to run Whitewebbs Park and set that against the healthy lifestyle and well being that it creates.”  Apart from refuse collection  and the recently reintroduced  path strimming very little is actually spent on this park. A lot of the maintenance work is done by volunteer groups. This semi privatisation of a public park has little or nothing to commend it.

  1. The environmental impact of this proposal should a commercial lease be granted.
    The golf course is an attractive place for wildlife, there are some beautiful  and unusual trees there. It is a mature course and blends in with the landscape.  The process described in  3 above  could do a huge amount of damage, not just to the  Golf Course. A commercial operator would be under great pressure  to make money – redeveloping the land for housing  and the “landscaping” of landfill are the only real possibilities.  Competing with existing golf facilities in the region in a declining market makes no commercial sense. The ground staff do an excellent job but there is a need, I’m told, for some investment to maintain the standards of the
    There is the added risk that a commercial developer might be tempted to nibble away at the park.
    The costs of running the Park (as opposed to the Golf Course) are minimal. There is very little open space. That which is there is naturally regenerating as woodland and in winter  a significant part is waterlogged and in summer  the dried out clay is riven by fissures.
  2. Whitewebbs as part of the Green Belt. Instead of looking at Whitewebbs in isolation we should be looking at it as part of the Forty Hall, Whitewebbs , Hilly Fields arc of open space. Walkers and runners use the network of paths that connect all three areas. It is possible to do a huge variety of walks using different path combinations – short walks, easy walks, hillier walks, woodland walks, farmland walks, historical walks.  Admittedly there is great difficulty for wheelchair users to move between Forty Hall and Whitwebbs but this should be addressed. There are much longer walks that include  the three parks on the way from Gordon Hill to Cheshunt. It is  surprising that there is no mention of the Bridleway in  the Frank Knight prospectus – it occupies 4000m and is 2 – 3 metres wide.

    This extract from Enfield Council’s   “ Enfield’s Local Plan Detailed Green Belt Boundary Review March 2013 EVIDENCE BASE” recognises the importance of the Whitewebbs area to the Green Belt

    4.3 (2) Rural Parklands Within Enfield’s Green Belt two key areas have been characterised as rural parkland, Enfield Chase in the north‐west and the large area of recreation land in the north‐east comprising Whitewebbs Park, Forty Hall parklands, and the parklands surrounding Myddleton House.   This Green Belt typology offers landscapes with strong national heritage and a focus on recreation. Within the wider environment these historic landscapes are generally widely visible forming large woodland areas which are prominent from the north and south.

    See   Housing on the Green Belt  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/green-belt-land-protected-housing-crisis-development-report-london-a8749366.html

    Also see this Press release issued by the London Green Belt Council on 1st July 2019:      https://enfieldsociety.org.uk/2019/07/13/local-authorities-are-urged-to-protect-green-spaces-to-mitigate-climate-change/

  3. Alternate proposals.
    Look at the whole picture – Whitewebbs Park and the Golf Course are part of the lungs of Enfield. The health and environmental benefits for the citizens of Enfield and North London far outweigh the minimal costs of maintaining the parks. Enfield does need to be more commercially minded about the provision of appropriate services on the Whitwebbs site. In so doing it could generate a much higher income and greater user satisfaction.
    If the Council feels that it cannot manage Whitewebbs successfully then ask Capel Manor to take over. It is a college that offers land management in its course list and it has  the infrastructure  to cope with  issues such as employment, health and safety and human resources.
    b. Unless the Council is planning to allow housing development on the site of the park / golf course  or allow massive landfill and “landscaping” it should accept that  the parks are not going to generate significant income.
  4. Base development of Beggars Hollow on the existing pattern of use, enhancing the provision so as to attract greater use. The key element is to provide catering facilities that will meet the year round needs of existing and prospective users. Enhancements could take the form of, for example, a safe play area for children; warm and dry shelter for golfers,. and walkers, dog walkers, runners; hitching rail for horses; better disabled access; opening hours that will attract a wider clientele (the café  was busy at 8.00 a.m. under previous lessees)  A successful and attractive café  would provide employment, generate income for the Council and attract more users to the park and the golf course. It might be possible to attract small businesses to the site – dog washing and grooming for example.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Whitewebbs Park andGolf Course – Future use”

  1. Whitewebbs Park is a well loved, well used beautiful natural resource open for Enfield residents, allowing them to escape and relate to nature. Studies have proved that just 20 minutes of experiencing green spaces like Whitwebbs are extremely beneficial and can even help those with mental health issues.

    Open and free Access to this treasured Park , its thoroughfares, its woodland and Wildlife must be protected for all.

    I suggest that an Environmental Impact Assessment involving specialist agencies like Natural England and the Woodland Trust as Whitewebbs Woods includes Ancent Woodland which is noted as a Special Site of Scientific Importance is essential. Other agencies: RSPB, the Bat Society, The London Greenbelt Council and Wildlife Trusts and others.. should be seriously consulted not just logged.

    Has this been raised with local groups? The Enfield Society, the CAG, Forty Hill and Bulls Cross Study Group, The Green Belt Forum?
    We need a public meeting including relevant council officers, ward councillors and the Director of Environment.
    Notification has been poor . If it wasn’t for social media I would not have known about it and I live just 5 minutes from Whitewebbs.
    This is an initial response, off the top of my head.
    Please reply urgently.
    Thank you
    Jill Simpson

  2. Any commercial development of open spaces and woodland is extremely undesirable, to much open space has already been lost to “development” which only benefits the greedy and not the locla people or the local authority except in the very short term. The cafe could be enhanced to serve decent food and even have late openings on special occassions as has been done elsewhere, this could be a great benefit.
    Bear in mind that commercial property developers and estate agents cannot be trusted since they are only motivated by greed, which is why property prices and rents are so absurd, keep this beautiful open space for the people, as we have seen the running costs are very low and can remain so for the benefit of all.

  3. In a time when mental health is declining and GP’s are prescribing community gardening and getting out into nature, it seems odd that Enfield Council is not willing to invest in this amazing asset. There are so many activities that would bring money in for the Council whilst keeping the park’s natural beauty. To name a few: bushcraft days, organised woodland walks with experts, marshmallow productions put time limited productions on in Woodlands (and have supported Greenpeace). They recently used Epping for one of their productions. These are educational and magical events; Mushroom identification walks are so popular it’s almost impossible to get a place on one. These are just a few things that would raise money and benefit the population of Enfield.
    The cafe could be a much greater attraction if it provided proper shelter.
    I would be totally against this area being used to dump excavated material (look at the problems of contaminated materials at Enfield Island Village). I would also not be in favour of housing in this area which would ruin the feel of this special area.

  4. I completely disagree with any extension of the golf course that could impact the park. Whitewebbs is a great place for walking, relaxing etc. Please stop this and leave it as it is.

  5. I agree with all earlier comments and I and my dog(s) have walked Whitewebbs and Forty Hall for at least 35 years. I can remember 1987 and the devastation to the trees in the park. But it all looks so peaceful now whatever the weather. If the damage that has been inflicted on North Lodge is typical of what waste dumping will do to create a different style of golf course then please leave well alone.
    Well done LBE for the remedial work on the lodge but it should not have been allowed to happen in the first place.
    Finally is the old course of the New River protected. ? It was constructed in the seventeenth century and if you look carefully an awful lot of the loop exists as well as the aqueduct. So can it be listed ? I have not seen any English Heritage signs or protective notices.

  6. I’ve been using whitewebbs Park for 50 years. Starting as a young girl riding at the riding schools which use the bridle paths to then go on and get my own horses to which I got great enjoyment using the bridle paths. Stopping off at the king and tinker for a drink. I still use whitewebbs to walk my dogs, it gives you great pleasure to met like minded dog owners and walkers. After the walk we stop off at whitewebbs cafe and enjoy spending time relaxing chatting it’s been a great help in times of stress ect. It’s lovely to see the many golfers out there enjoying their time off from a busy life To take it all away from the people and the wildlife is heart breaking.

  7. LBE states it has a “vision of benefitting the local community”. Knowing and having used Whitewebbs Park since around 1970 I would suggest that it is already ” benefitting the local community” in a wide variety of ways, many of which appear in the comments.
    I taught my children to ride along the BRIDLEWAYS, which you conveniently forget to mention. These are still being used by adults and children to this very day. Horse riding is an excellent excercise for young and old alike, also an excellent way to meet and make like minded friends. I know of many young people who have gone on from riding ponies through Whitewebbs Park that now have employment within many aspects of the varied horse world, myself included throughout their lives. Had it not been for Whitewebbs Park and the BRIDLEWAYS, they and I may not have had such employment.

    Regarding NATURE CONSERVATION. Tipping of inert materials will undoubtedly cause havoc along the country lanes and side roads with the lorries. Where is the Conservation in that with noise, fumes and danger to walkers, horse riders and wildlife?

    Does the LBE need any more Leisure Centres, it already has three?

    It appears that the LBE “community engagement ” is sadly lacking from comments that many residents had no idea that LBE was considering putting “their” Park out for tender and that the signage was woeful.

    A Freedom of Information Request would be a good idea to establish exactly what financial costs of upkeep the LBE actually has had over the last say 25 years, year on year. It is probably not a lot.

    Whitewebbs Park is an asset to the community in a variety of ways, not least a place in which many can relax and draw a breath of fresh air and help their mental well being. Do not underestimate this and do not make a commercial speculation that could endanger this.

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